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How to reduce your waste this holiday season

Whether it is Hanukkah, Christmas, St. Nicholas, St. Lucia, Epiphany, or New Year’s celebration, the holiday season is peppered with opportunities to consume and buy in excess — and therefore to generate waste. In addition to what you do everyday to reduce waste, the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) recommends that you follow the tips below to limit the amount of waste you will create this holiday season.

The holiday season is an important source of waste
The holiday season is an important source of waste. Source: freestocks.org/ Unsplash

1. Plan your gift buying ahead of time and be a mindful gift giver. Do your loved ones really need an extra sweater? And will they wear it? If the answer to either of these questions is “no”, then don’t buy said sweater.
2. Give your loved ones experiences or services. Tickets to the museum or a concert, a gift card for a massage, or a subscription to an online magazine make excellent gifts. Be creative when choosing gifts.
3. Skip the wrapping paper. Wrap your gifts in old newspapers (it makes them look vintage) or try your hand at Furoshiki – the Japanese technique to wrap gifts in reusable cloth.
4. Buy used, remanufactured, upcycled, or recycled products. You do not need to buy everything anew. A used bike, for instance, can be as good as – and sometimes even better than – a new one if it is properly maintained.
5. Make sure to get a gift receipt from the store. Allow your loved ones to exchange the gifts they receive if they do not like them or if they do not fit.
6. Mind the tree: do not buy a cheap artificial tree that you will throw away after one year, because they can’t be recycled. Either buy one that you’ll want to use again and again or a potted (real) Christmas tree that you can replant in your (or any) garden after the festive season is over.
7. Don’t toss the leftovers – the holidays are notorious for the size of the meals (or should we call them feasts?) served at family dinners and lunches and for the amount of food waste associated with them. Don’t waste food this holiday season! Share your leftovers with others or simply freeze them for later consumption.

You can find more tips on how to reduce your waste this holiday season in this guide by Zero Waste Scotland. We also recommend Zerowastenerd’s list of low- and zero-waste gifts.

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